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New Brunswick RCMP member tests positive for coronavirus

A police officer in New Brunswick has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now self-isolating at home.

“At this time, the case is not believed to be related to frontline interaction,” RCMP said in a statement released on Saturday.

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In the meantime, police said there is no anticipated impact on frontline policing or deployability.

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Winnipeg lab employee self-isolating after mistaken exposure to new coronavirus

A Winnipeg lab worker is now in 14 days of self-isolation after mistakenly being in contact with chickens that had been exposed to the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says on the morning of March 28, an employee, “well-trained in all aspects of animal care procedures” entered a large animal cubicle, mistakenly believing it “housed non-infected chickens.”

The staff member was wearing enough personal protective clothing for a room with non-infected animals, but not enough for infected animals, they said.

“Therefore, the personal protective equipment that was worn by the employee at the time was not sufficient for the room at that time. All prescribed room signage was in place,” said a statement from the CFIA.

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The chickens in the room had been inoculated with the coronavirus causing COVID-19, 11 days prior.

“The purpose of the study being undertaken was to determine whether chickens could become infected with the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Samples taken from the chickens on the day of the potential exposure tested negative, indicating that the risk of potential exposure was very low.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Coronavirus: 29 new cases confirmed in Nova Scotia

As of Sunday, Nova Scotia has 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of cases to 236.

According to the province, those cases range in age from under 10 to over 80.

Four individuals are currently in hospital and 50 individuals have now recovered, and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.

“Public health is working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases. Those individuals who have been confirmed are being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days,” the province said in a statement released on Saturday.

The province also noted that most of the confirmed cases have been connected to travel or a known case, but some are connected to community spread.

“This is expected and why the testing strategy continues to be adjusted,” said the province.

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Part of that adjustment is increasing lab capacity, which according to the government, will have processing at the lab move to 24/7 operations as of Monday.

The 29 new cases were identified on Friday after the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 800 Nova Scotia tests in one day.

“It is now more important than ever for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health orders and directives – practise good hygiene, maintain a physical distance of two metres or six feet from others, limit essential gatherings to no more than five people and stay at home as much as possible,” the province said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent

spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Manitoba health officials to provide COVID-19 update

Manitoba health officials will hold a press conference Saturday from the Manitoba Legislature to provide an update on the COVID-19 crisis. It’s scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m. CT.

On Friday, another Manitoban died due to the novel coronavirus bringing the province’s death toll to two.

A total of 15 news cases were declared on Friday, bringing Manitoba’s total to 182 probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Lanette Siragusa of Shared Health said eight companies have “responded to the province’s call for donations of medical supplies.”

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One day after putting out a call for supplies, the health system received donations of 2,570 N95 masks, 3,110 surgical and procedure masks, 9,300 gloves and 202 bottles of hand sanitizer, said the province.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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‘It’s heart-wrenching’: Morgues struggle with demand as COVID-19 cases surge

There are the new dead. And then there are the bodies waiting in overcrowded mortuaries to be buried as cities struggle to meet demand and families wrestle with rules on social distancing that make the usual funeral rituals impossible.

Med Alliance Group, a medical distributor in Illinois, is besieged by calls and emails from cities around the country. Each asks the same thing: Send more refrigerated trailers so that we can handle a situation we never could have imagined.

“They’re coming from all over: From hospitals, health systems, coroner’s offices, VA facilities, county and state health departments, state emergency departments and funeral homes,” said Christie Penzol, a spokeswoman for Med Alliance. “It’s heart-wrenching.”

The company has rented all its trailers and there’s an 18-week wait for new materials to build more, she said.

With U.S. medical experts and even U.S. President Donald Trump now estimating the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic could reach 240,000 nationwide, the sheer practicalities of death — where to put the bodies — are worrying just about everyone as cities, hospitals and private medical groups clamour to secure additional storage.

The need is compounded by private mortuary space that is occupied longer than usual as people wait to bury their loved ones — regardless of how they died — because rules on social distancing make planning funerals difficult.

It’s a crisis being repeated worldwide.

In Spain, where the death toll has climbed to nearly 12,000, an ice rink in Madrid was turned into a makeshift morgue after the city’s municipal funeral service said it could no longer take coronavirus bodies until it was restocked with protective equipment. In Italy, embalmed bodies in caskets are being sent to church halls and warehouses while they await cremation or burial.

And in the coastal Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, macabre images and pleas from families on social media show dead loved ones wrapped in plastic or cloth, waiting for days to be taken away by overwhelmed morgue workers.

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In the U.S. epicenter of New York City, where the death toll was nearly 1,900 on Saturday, authorities brought in refrigerated trucks to store bodies. At Brooklyn Hospital Center, a worker wheeled out a body covered in white plastic on a gurney and a forklift operator carefully raised it into a refrigerated trailer.

Cities and states that haven’t been hard-hit yet are trying to prepare for the worst.

In Washington, D.C., which has a morgue that can hold about 270 bodies, officials said they would seek help from federal partners if needed. Dallas has a plan for refrigerated space as part of its emergency preparedness efforts. And Chicago is already using a trailer outside the medical examiner’s office for the bodies of coronavirus victims, and may use a refrigerated warehouse if needed.

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the Defence Department for 100,000 body bags, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews said Thursday.

On a daily basis, the system works at essentially full capacity in most jurisdictions, said Robert A. Jensen, co-owner of Kenyon International Emergency Services, a private disaster response company based in Texas.

“They’re not made for surge. They’re made to handle the daily numbers,” said Jensen, whose company has helped with mass fatality incidents from 9-11 to Hurricane Katrina to the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, all of which involved using refrigerated trucks to store bodies.

In Pennsylvania, the state coroner’s association is working to figure out resources and help with what will likely be regional planning.

Brian Abernathy, Philadelphia’s Managing Director, said the city had secured refrigerated trucks to help with any overflow storage needed for bodies. The city had reported 26 deaths as of Friday.

“This isn’t because we expect a large influx of people succumbing to the illness, but rather it’s likely that there will be fewer funerals, which will cause backups in both our city morgues as well as the hospital morgues,” Abernathy said.

Brian Murphy, the CEO of Arctic Industries, which manufactures walk-in coolers and quick-assemble modular structures in Miami and Los Angeles, said he is getting calls seeking help. In the past, most clients were from the food industry, but with restaurants shuttered, calls about mortuary needs have risen.

He says his company is prioritizing work related to COVID-19 and is considering working more hours to meet needs.

“Everything is very much in flux,” Murphy said.

The families of the dead, meanwhile, are making do.

Rosina Argondizzo of Glenview, Illinois, was buried in March with just a priest and four people present: her husband of 58 years, her son Peter, his wife and their son. Another son who lives in Italy didn’t travel. Peter Argondizzo said his 79-year-old mother, who died after contracting pneumonia and the flu, would have had a very different funeral in normal times.

“We’re Italian so it would have been a lot of people. … It would have been big,” he said, adding they would have hosted a meal in her honour, something they now hope to do at a later date. “She would have wanted everyone to have been well-fed.”

David Dittman said he inquired about waiting to hold a funeral for his 94-year-old mother, Ruth, who died after battling cancer, so more family could attend.

But the funeral home handling arrangements in Connecticut didn’t want to hold the body for more than two weeks.

He said he understood: “Especially with this rush of people that may be coming at them. They may be overwhelmed, you know.”

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Some Canadians to pay additional pharmacy dispensing fees due to coronavirus restrictions

A new policy that has pharmacists restricting patients to a 30-day supply of their medications means some people are having to pay dispensing fees two or three times over.

The policy was put in place to prevent drug shortages while manufacturers struggle to produce enough product during COVID-19.

But that means patients who would normally receive 90-days’ worth of prescription medications are now paying the dispensing fee three times instead of one in some provinces.

“All of a sudden they’re going to see their cost for prescriptions go up 200 per cent,” said Kathleen Finlay, the founder of the Center for Patient Protection.

In most places, those dispensing fees are between $5 and $15. But some people have multiple prescriptions, multiplying the cost, she said.

“It gets up there really quickly,” she said.

She’s particularly concerned about fixed income seniors, who are being hit with these costs out of the blue. She said some people may be faced with tough decisions about whether they can afford to renew their prescriptions when they need them.

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Some provinces, like Alberta, have adjusted their co-pay structure for seniors and those without private insurance to offset those costs, but not all.

In British Columbia, the province covers dispensing fees for many people with low incomes or high medication costs under a complex pharmacare plan.

But even there, some people are going to feel the impact of the new 30-day supply rules when they go to renew their prescriptions next month, according to the seniors’ advocate for the province.

“We knew that was a risk,” said spokesperson Barry Power, adding people may not be able to get their medications at all if nothing is done.

“We felt that avoiding drug shortages was the better way to go.”

The association has been working with governments and insurers to address the added burden on patients, he said.

“This is the cost of safeguarding Canada’s drug supply and it should be borne by Canada as a whole, not small businesses,” Power said.

Canada is already starting to see medications fall into short supply as a result of COVID-19, he said.

According to Health Canada, there are supply constraints for certain drugs like sedatives, pain relievers, and muscle relaxants.

While individual pharmacies have the discretion to waive dispensing fees if they want to, the money goes a long way to covering the pharmacy’s costs, Power said

With every prescription, the pharmacist must verify the medication and proper dose, make sure there are no adverse drug interactions, and make sure there is enough inventory, he said.

The fees also help pay for the added expenses pharmacies have borne to stay open during the pandemic. Many have installed barriers between patients and customers and hand-sanitizing stations, for example.

He said it’s important that pharmacists doing essential work are not made to cover those costs themselves, just as the government wouldn’t ask nurses or doctors to pay for their own protective equipment in a hospital.

But if provinces don’t act, he said the costs will trickle down to patients instead.

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‘The calm before the storm’: London ER doc describes working on frontlines of COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Alex Dong doesn’t wear his wedding ring anymore when he goes to work at London Health Sciences Centre because it could become contaminated.

The only items he takes now are the essentials, like his phone and driver’s licence, which he locks safely away in a Ziploc bag that has to be sterilized before he leaves the hospital.

Once home, to keep from contaminating anyone or anything inside, he has to strip down in his garage and immediately jump into the shower.

It’s become the new normal for the emergency department physician and his colleagues at Victoria Hospital.

Similar stories are also playing out across the country as frontline medical staff, increasingly short on personal protective equipment, work to treat a growing number of COVID-19 patients, all while putting their own health — and that of their families — at risk.

No one working in Dong’s emergency department has gotten sick from COVID-19, at least not yet, Dong says. “Hopefully it stays that way.”

“The overall feeling is that this is kind of like the calm before the storm,” he says. “Overall, there’s a lot of anxiety amongst us, especially as more cases are coming in.

“For many of us, for the first time in our careers, we’re like, we’re scared to come to work.”

Ninety-two cases of COVID-19 and three deaths have been confirmed in London and Middlesex so far. Sixty-one cases and two deaths were reported just this work week.

Nineteen patients with COVID-19 were being treated at LHSC’s University and Victoria hospitals as of Friday, with 11 of those patients in intensive care.

“There’s probably a lot more cases of COVID-19 in the community than the official numbers would suggest,” Dong said. “We’re not testing everybody who comes in with symptoms. We’re telling them to self-quarantine at home and only to come back if things worsen and they need hospitalization.”

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Something that Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the other day is that our confirmed numbers are probably a significant underestimate of the true number of people with COVID-19. So I really don’t want people thinking, ‘oh, there’s only like, whatever, 80 cases in London. It’s not that bad.’”

LHSC itself is readying itself for a potential influx.

Plans are in the works to convert the Western Fair District Agriplex into a temporary field hospital with 180 beds that could be expanded to 500 should the need arise, the organization said Friday.

“We are not at our peak yet. We’re still seeing our numbers rising,” Dong said. “We need to be more diligent with our social distancing to flatten that curve.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

Source: Read Full Article

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Ontario cannabis stores to close for 2 weeks after being deemed non-essential

Ontario’s cannabis stores will be forced to shut down after the Doug Ford government revised its list of non-essential businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

All physical cannabis stores were included in the closure order, which will take effect Saturday at 11:59 p.m. and is scheduled to last 14 days.

The Ontario Cannabis Store will continue to operate online and licenced producers can continue production.

Ontario had previously allowed retail cannabis storefronts to remain open when the first closure order took effect on March 24.

However, the government changed course in announcing further closures on Friday.

“We’re taking additional steps to flatten the curve,” Premier Doug Ford said. “We’re announcing the closure of many more sectors of the economy and I can tell you this was no easy task.”

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LCBO and Beer Store locations are still considered essential and will remain open, albeit on reduced hours.

With files from Global’s Nick Westoll

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Winnipeg Superstore closed after employee tests positive for coronavirus

A Winnipeg grocery store shut its doors Friday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The Superstore on Regent Avenue was closed for what a spokesperson from a company described as a deep cleaning, and was expected to re-open Saturday.

“We were informed today that one of our colleagues tested positive for COVID-19,” the spokesperson told Global News in an email.

“We’ll be working with the local public health team, and have taken a number of steps to minimize risk, including increased sanitization protocols and enforcing social distancing practices in the store.”

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The spokesperson said the employee hadn’t been at work since March 22 and other employees they worked closely with are now at home in self-isolation, monitoring for symptoms.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

Source: Read Full Article

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Separated by glass, B.C. couple marks 75th anniversary amid COVID-19

A Victoria, B.C., couple celebrated their 75th anniversary Thursday, still together and very much in love even though they’re now separated by a sheet of glass.

Lew Duddridge, 102, is in a care home under lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, forcing him and his 95-year-old wife, Hilda, to mark their diamond anniversary through a window.

“Can you feel it?” Lew asks Hilda as they place their hands on either side of the glass at his care home.

“One of these days, we’ll touch again,” she replies.

The couple met during the Second World War at a train station in England.

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Duddridge, a bold Canadian pilot, proposed to the Welsh-born Hilda within a week.

“At first I said, ‘My mother would kill me if I came home from holidays engaged.”

Lou eventually won her hand and swept her away to Hanley, Sask., where they raised four kids.

The novel coronavirus is not the first pandemic Duddridge has lived through.

He was born in 1918, amid the Spanish Flu, which claimed millions of lives around the world. Both his mother and father had the flu.

Having already lived through a worldwide disease outbreak and two world wars, Duddridge remains positive. At 102, he loses names and faces, but never Hilda’s.

On their anniversary, he sings her one of their favourite songs.

Despite the uncertainty and distress of the present, Hilda believes that this too shall pass.

“Be kind and love everybody,” she said. “We just gotta be patient and know that it’s going to end.”

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